Posted in clean renewable energy, no fossil fuels, solar

Testimony at Environment Committee in support of a Solar Incentive Bill

On Tuesday June 11, 2019, bill 190378 to establish a Solar Panel Incentive Program was  discussed at Committee on the Environment.

Current members of this Committee — Reynolds-Brown, Bass, Blackwell, Gym, Taubenberger, Green, Parker

Prior to this hearing, there was this related post on the Philadelphia Energy Authority site: Councilwoman Reynolds Brown Introduces Legislation to Establish a Solar Rebate Program for the City of Philadelphia.

Many people spoke, all in support of this bill, notably: Christine Knapp, Laura Rigell, Spencer Wright, Joseph Kiss, Juan Sanabria, Laila Riley, Edward Robinson, Matt Walker, Mitch Chanin, Meenal Raval.

Many also wrote letters of support, notably: Chris Spahr, Dan Dillon, Barry Moore, Frank Foley, Samuel Park, Mark Bortman, Micah Gold-Markel, Douglas Davis, Julia Hillengas.

Below is my testimony.


Hello, My name is Meenal Raval. I’m a resident of Mt Airy and am active with the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 team. I’m here today to speak on bill# 190378, to establish a solar panel incentive program.

We need a rapid transition to renewable energy, so of course we support this bill. A bill that would offer residents a 20c per watt rebate for rooftop solar projects installed for the next 6 years. The bill would also offer a 10c per watt rebate for commercial rooftop solar projects installed within the same time frame.

What is unclear is how this rebate program will be funded. While we wondered where we were getting the $2.5 million — we hear that it’s already cut to 1/5th the fund! Why are we limiting this program before it’s seen the light of day?

In addition to a rebate incentivizing rooftop solar, we would like to have a comprehensive conversation about something we’ve asked this Committee for months — the Ready for 100 resolution.

A resolution with the goal of transitioning all of Philadelphia’s energy uses, both public and private, to 100% clean and renewable electricity by 2035, and to 100% clean and renewable heating and transportation by 2050.

Adopting such a resolution, with an agreed upon time frame, would lead to an action plan and help put things like today’s bill in the context of a larger plan. We have a draft copy of an Action Plan to offer this Committee.  An Action Plan would help prioritize, even triage, our work ahead, so we could focus on reducing the most emissions, and improving air quality for the most people.

A Ready For 100 resolution would put the Citywide Energy Vision and the Municipal Energy Master Plan developed by the Office of Sustainability; Council’s pledge to uphold the Paris Accord plus the 70 megawatt solar project in Adams County — yup, all of these — in the context of an aggressive, but achievable, goal.

A Ready for 100 resolution would, of course, have to include education – what each resident and business could do to shift their energy needs.

Adopting this resolution would provide an important guiding principle for all future decisions about the energy we use, how we invest City funds, which projects to choose, and where necessary — find new solutions.

A Ready for 100 resolution would also require that we review and revise our policies in light of this resolution and action plan. For example… If new vehicles are being considered, this resolution would remind us that they need to be zero emission vehicles. If roofs are being replaced, this resolution would remind us that we need to consider the viability of rooftop solar – for both public and private projects. If a road is being repaved, this resolution would require that we consider pedestrian and cyclist use for this same roadway.  If we’re buying leaf blowers and street sweeping trucks, this resolution would have us consider low-carbon options such as investing in people and brooms.

This bill offering a rebate to those installing rooftop solar is one we support whole heartedly.

When we consider the climate crisis in every decision we make, when we consider future generations in every decision we make, it becomes obvious that we can no longer encourage new fossil-fuel projects that have recently been the focus of our climate action – the SEPTA gas power plant, the PGW LNG facility and the soon to be voted on trash & recycling program that would continue to incinerate our trash.

The Ready for 100 resolution has been adopted by cities and towns across the US, including Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Atlanta, Orlando, LA and 18 townships in the Philadelphia suburbs. The Ready for 100 resolution is is very much needed for Philadelphia.


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Posted in ban plastics, climate, no fossil fuels, transition

Testimony at March 21st 2019 City Council session

The Philadelphia community is resisting our own municipal utility wanting to extend their gas customer base for fracked gas. You can learn more at 350philly.org/NoLNG. The below is testimony of 2 residents against this project on March 21st 2019.


Watch Emily at 1:00 – 1:02

Hello. My name is Emily Davis. 

I ask you to please vote down Bill 181063 which would allow the city to enter into a contract for a Liquefied Natural Gas Plant.  A time when the city is trying to lower its carbon footprint, is not a time to permit the building of a new facility that supports an energy system based on hydrocarbons.  

As we transition away from the use of natural gas in our homes, we will need PGW’s support.  So while one part of PGW maintains the old system and shrinks in size, a new part, supporting sustainable energy sources and energy efficiency could be expanding.

We have all heard about the costly results of the extreme weather, like those this week in Nebraska and Mozambique that has plagued the world in recent years.  97% of scientists believe that climate change in caused by humans and know what we humans are doing to cause it.   One of those activities is the burning of hydrocarbons.   One of the effects of climate change is extreme weather. These weather disasters are very costly – our own government says that “In 2018, there were 14 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States.”  So Philadelphia is right in wanting to lower its carbon footprint.

The financial advantage of this LNG plant is questionable.  The annual budget of the city of Philadelphia is over 4 billion.  The income from this facility is projected to be less than 0.1% of that.  And, there are questions about the private partner.  

I agree that PGW needs help – but this is not it.  As we transition away from the use of natural gas in our homes, we will need PGW’s support.  So while one part of PGW maintains the old system and shrinks in size, a new part, supporting sustainable energy sources and energy efficiency could be expanding.

Please do not support this bill or any bill that supports new infrastructure for fossil fuels.  The costs will outweigh the benefits.


Hello. My name is Meenal Raval.

Watch Meenal at 1:24 – 1:26

I’m here today to speak on bill number 181063 – authorizing PGW to enter into a public private partnership with Liberty Energy Trust to develop the Passyunk Energy Center. 

How can Council consider a steel fork dangerous, and not consider a large fossil fuel project dangerous?

You must know that gas is a fossil fuel. That adding to our dependency of fossil fuels at this late stage of a planetary climate fever is immoral and dangerous. 

Today, as I passed thru security, I was stopped because I had a steel fork in my bag. We aren’t talking about a pitchfork, but a dinner fork from my kitchen drawer. Many of us, keenly aware of our city’s litter problem and our oceans choking with plastic, choose to avoid using single-use plastics. Single-use plastics such as forks, water bottles, straws and check-out bags. Because single-use plastics are made from fossil fuels, which we need to use so much less of. I want to thank Councilman Squilla for leading on reducing our city’s use of single-use plastic bags.

So while my fork waits for me by the security team, I’m here asking… How can Council consider a steel fork dangerous, and not consider a large fossil fuel project dangerous? Please, vote down bill number 181063 when it comes up for a vote. 

I’m also here to speak about bill number 181067 introduced December 6, 2018 by Council member Reynolds Brown. This bill calls for public hearings about executing the mayor’s Municipal Energy Master Plan, a plan that calls for all of the city’s municipal facilities to use 100% renewable energy by 2030.

By the way, 12 municipalities in the greater Philadelphia area have passed resolutions to transition their energy use to 100% renewable – community-wide. That’s public as well as private. 

We can offer a presentation to any of you who want to learn more about the Ready for 100% renewable energy campaign. 

Thank you.